Wednesday, May 15, 2013

... A Little About Me

I never struggled with weight growing up, 
I was a happy, healthy little girl.
Not "skinny" but not overweight either.

During my middle school years, I was quite active, playing soccer and running track. During high school my interests shifted to music and drama. In college, I was still heavily involved in music (and my college group did some dance too, although I am NOT a dancer!) I made sure I took a P.E. course every quarter to force myself to stay active (tennis, racquetball, circuit training) ... and there was a lot of walking around campus too (I didn't have a car).  I stayed not "skinny" but healthy.

Then comes marriage ... and a desk job ... and then kids. I just figured weight gain was inevitable. My mother was heavy and I took after her.  My hobbies were crafting and scrapbooking (fairly sedentary stuff). I really wasn't very active and I wasn't watching what I ate. My wonderful husband wouldn't say a negative word as the pounds slowly but surely crept on through the years.  I didn't like what I saw in the mirror but I didn't think I had the self-control or motivation to make a change.

Shortly after our fifth and final baby was born, I went through a very stressful time. I lost my appetite completely (something that never happens to me) and I lost 20 pounds in a about two weeks. Now I know that isn't a healthy way to lose, but I don't know that that was actually a conscious goal (or I might have taken some measurements or before/after photos). But that 20 pound loss was the kick-start I needed. I could already see a change, and it did motivate me to continue. It was actually a life-changer. I started watching what I ate, logging a food diary ... and I started walking. I walked a LOT. On the treadmill and with the little ones in the stroller. I started lifting weights (hubby had a complete set-up downstairs, not that I needed very much). I lost an additional 30 pounds over the next three months. I was at my goal weight. I even pulled out my wedding dress and was able to fit into it! I had to buy a completely new wardrobe. I felt younger and prettier than I had in years. 

I was able to maintain that weight (135) for about six months, then I had a bit of a jump to 140, but then maintained that for a while. A little more up, then working on it and getting it back down. Then a little more up, then a little more, then a little more. At a rate of a about five pounds per year, eight years later I was back up to where I had been before the initial loss.  You can see some of the changes in my Family Photos post and the graph below.

I've stayed very active throughout the years, but it's said you can't "out-cardio" your calories. Admittedly I was NOT counting my incoming calories so I really had no idea what they were. I do like to eat, and I really like my sugar and carbs. In May 2013 I made a commitment to really try again. I know it's the eating, so I joined My Fitness Pal and started logging my food. I tried to up my exercise, and shake it up a bit as well (as I do tend to get in a routine rut). 

I started this blog to help me keep track of all my data and my days. Recaps of the days, weeks, months. Capturing some of the graphs that only seem to be available for a short time. It's also said to make your goal public, so others know what you are doing and you have that extra incentive on knowing people are watching. I don't know if anyone will actually read this ... but I think it will help ME, and that is what matters most.

Here we go ...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pedometer Personal Best

 ** I'm a pedometer person. For the past few years I've worn a pedometer and recorded my daily steps. I set a new personal best, just topping a high from about a year ago. 10,000 steps is about five miles, so throughout my day, I got in just over 20 miles. I actually wear two pedometers. My Omron (shown in the picture above) shows me my total steps, as well as my aerobic steps (steps taken continuously for 10 minutes or more). My Fitbit gives me a visual graph which is fun to follow - the image below was my day ...

Got up and did 20 minutes on the elliptical (first spike) then got the kids of to school. Then some short bursts of steps (laundry, walking the little one to a neighbor's for a play date) then another 20 minutes on the elliptical. Then the walk to school to pick up #4 from kindergarten (twenty minutes each way, with a small break in between as the kids enjoy the playground before we head back home). Make some lunch, get in another 20 minutes on the elliptical. Play with the kids, mow the lawn, a couple quick 10 minute elliptical sessions. #3 has a baseball game ... there's not a lot of parking, I always have to walk a quarter mile just to get from my car to the field (as I'm a walker ... I don't really mind). Then rather than just sitting and watching the game, I walk and watch. From the edge of left field to the edge of right field, back and forth ... the games last about 90 minutes ... I usually get in five miles. I was pretty much done for the day, got the kids to bed and was ready to head there myself when hubby got called away on an errand ... so, I went down and did 20 more minutes on the elliptical (just to go ahead and break my personal best record). Hubby gave my poor tootsies a foot rub ... they needed it!

**This post was originally added to the family blog June 3, 2010

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Fitbit Fan

I am a FAN of the Fitbit! I don't know when the Fitbit first came out. I ordered mine in February of 2010. It was backordered, so I didn't receive it until the very last day in April.  Now I'd been wearing a pedometer for years ...I can tell you how many steps I've walked any given day since September of 2006. I started out with a fairly cheap model ... went through several of those! Upgraded to an Omron and used that for years (still using it as a backup in fact *Ü*).  Going from a $20 pedometer to one that costs $100 ... it was a bit of a jump. But from the moment I got my Fitbit, I was hooked!

Now honestly ... I can't say the Fitbit made me MORE active. I had been VERY active already. I joined Walker Tracker in December of 2008, and the competitions there did actually make me move more. I was hitting 30K a day with regularity. By the time I got my Fitbit in 2010, I was slowing down a bit. Changes in schedules and priorities and all that, but I loved my new Fitbit and the visual graphs and data it provided. 

I can't say the Fitbit helped me lose weight either. Since my initial loss in 2006, I seemed to put on five pounds around April every single year like clockwork, just in time for summer. Add the five pounds each year from my goal weight of 135 in 2006 and I was at 175 in 2013 ... actually more like 180, as I'd added a few extra pounds here and there as well. It was a little frustrating, as I was so active, yet I wasn't tracking my food, so couldn't say the weight gain was unjustified.  I probably WAS eating as much (or more) than I was burning. The Fitbit website does have a food tracker ... I had given it a half-hearted attempt a couple times. I also used another calorie tracking site but struggled with it as well. I then heard about My Fitness Pal, and it is SUPER easy to use, AND it syncs with Fitbit. Now that I am also tracking intake as well as activity, I am really hoping to make something happen.

I'd had my original Fitbit (the Ultra) for over three years. Honestly, I can't believe I didn't lose it or wash it during that time.  It was still working, but I noticed cracks in the top. I wasn't sure how much longer it was going to last, and I knew I didn't want to go even a day without it should it break. Right about this time, Fitbit came out with the One ... the new and improved Fitbit. So I ordered it and easily connected it to my account and was up and running. That was February 2013. 

As my old Ultra was still functional, I figured I see if my oldest son wanted to use it. Not really as a motivational tool, but just to see how active he was. He didn't really express any interest in it though. Now my mom was actually a pedometer person even before I was, so I thought I'd see if she wanted to give it a try. I took it out and she was hooked. She ended up buying a One for herself, and for my dad. Then my son DID show an interest, but wanted the new Flex (bracelet type) ... like many years ago when the Fitbit was first introduced, supply cannot keep up with demand and I've placed the order but am waiting for shipment. My 14-year old son also expressed an interest, so I did authorize a purchase for him as well. We are a Fitbit Family!

I love that the Fitbit is so easy ... just put it on and go. You really don't have to do ANYTHING else. All the information is synced wirelessly to the computer (or they've even developed an app for that!). I love the visuals, the graphs.. you can SEE your activity chronologically throughout the day. You can compare your total calorie burn with your food intake (once you commit to logging your food anyway). The Fitbit can give you exact numbers for a specific workout, and then also captures all your miscellaneous movement throughout your day. At night, it can log your sleeping habits.  It really is a great tool.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gray's Garmin

A few years ago, my hubby was getting back into running. He had an older model, but I found a good deal on this new Garmin and bought it for him. It uses GPS to track your speed and distance, and included a heart rate monitor and would upload the data wirelessly to the computer.  He could also adjust the settings and use it for his bike rides as well. Now personally, I'm more of an indoor exerciser, but on those few times that I did jog the park or walk outside, I'd borrow this gadget and give it a try. It's pretty cool!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Musical Motivation

Music is a pretty powerful motivator when it comes to exercising. When I first started back in 2006, I had a couple dozen playlists. What I would listen to would depend on my mood. I gathered a huge library of "up" songs to exercise to. As we expanded the home gym, a TV replaced much of my music, and I do miss it (of course I can always listen to music if I want to, but I do like watching tv series or movies too). But during those times I leave the comfort of my home gym, I do return to music.  

Now I've always struggled with headphones. The "in the ear" kinds just don't seem to stay IN my ears! The over the ear kinds tend to push on my ears uncomfortably. And then there is always the wire from the headphones to the ipod or other mp3 player. Until I discovered these awesome headphones. These do actually stay in my ears, and there are no wires whatsoever. My little shuffle plugs right into them. They are also very durable. I can just shove them in my gym bag without worrying about anything breaking. Ok ... on a guy, they might stand out a little, make him look like a cyborg. But with my long hair, you can't even see that I have headphones on! These are a great gadget for this girl!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

J&G's Gym

** New Year's Resolution time, the majority of goals set probably are about fitness or losing weight. I'm spoiled ... in our basement we have a large unfinished room that has become J&G's Gym. For cardio, there is a treadmill, an elliptical and a stationary bike. The wall I face as I workout has a plethora of pictures ... I love to look at all the memories (it's my happy place). To help keep me entertained and motivated, there is a nice speaker system and Ipod to blare music ... there is a TV, with both a DVD player and a Wii attached (the Wii streams Netflix ... and is there for WiiFit if I'm so inclined). I always need a little bit of a breeze, so there are fans on the bike and elliptical (which can be tilted toward the treadmill, although the treadmill has its own fan ... it's just a very NOISY fan). Those are my fuzzy slippers next to the elliptical, because yes ... I like to wear slippers instead of shoes when on the elliptical *Ü* (I'm not sure if they'd go for that at Gold's Gym).

And fitness isn't just about cardio, so we have a full set of weights, a leg press, a calf machine as well as a full bench system. Add a ball, kettlebells and resistance bands ... as I mentioned, I'm pretty dang spoiled with this set up! Personally, I really like the treadmill (I know many really prefer running outdoors), but I have NO excuses not to work out with all this just a few steps away.

It's always nice and cool in the gym (sometimes a little TOO cool in the Winter months, but that is just a motivator to get moving). I like to lock the door when on the treadmill, but there is a little window into the room that the kids can safely poke their head in if they need me. Whereas sometimes it can be hard to get away for a solid hour, I can almost always slip away for 20 minutes here and there. In fact, the little ones sometimes get a bit spooked by "the basement" and don't want to be down there alone ... it doesn't matter if I'm in the same room, as long as I'm on the same level ... so the two little boys will say "Mom, I want to go downstairs, will you go exercise?"

... both Gray and I DO have a membership at Gold's too ... because alas, as wonderful as this gym is, we can't play racquetball in it.

** This was originally posted in the FamilyBlog January 2011 (alas, we haven't played racquetball in forever)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Family Photos

I'm usually behind the camera, not in front of it. A lot of that does have to do with my weight. If it's a family photo, then I guess I'll have to be in it. So here's some visuals of how, I (and the family) have changed over the years. Here we are December of 2005 ... shortly after the birth of baby #5. I was probably at my heaviest here (180). 

 November 2006 ... at my goal weight (135) *Ü*

Feb. 2007 (Weight 135)

September 2008 (weight 145)

 May 2009 (weight 145)
... a family 5K

June 2010 (weight 155)
Family Photo Shoot

June 2011 - Father's Day
(weight about 160)

December 2012 (weight 175)
New Sunday Suits

When I think back on my weight changes over the past several years ... in my memory, it was a slow, steady gain. There seemed to be a five pound gain each spring. But when I actually plugged in the numbers, I can see I had a LOT of ups and downs. There were a few times I tried a little harder and did manage to lose a little weight, other times there was a pretty fast gain. 

You can see a graph of my fluctuations on my Tracking Weight Through The Years post ...

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